Vancouver MP Jody Wilson-Raybould’s exit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet has led to a mini-shuffle and a new federal minister for agriculture and agri-food.
Marie-Claude Bibeau, MP for the Quebec riding of Compton-Stanstead since 2015, replaced Lawrence MacAulay as agriculture minister on Friday, becoming the first woman to handle the ag portfolio.
MacAulay, the ag minister since 2015 and a Prince Edward Island MP since 1988, becomes minister of veterans’ affairs and associate minister of defence, replacing Wilson-Raybould, who resigned from cabinet on Feb. 12.
Bibeau until now has served as minister of international development. In 2015 she won the Compton-Stanstead riding by a spread of almost 5,300 votes over incumbent New Democrat MP Jean Rousseau. The Bloc Quebecois had previously held the seat from 2004 to 2011.
On the international development file, Bibeau “helped refocus Canada’s international assistance on helping the poorest and most vulnerable people and on supporting fragile states,” Trudeau’s office said Friday in a release.
In 2017, she launched Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, aimed at prioritizing gender equality in international assistance programming, the PMO noted.
Before entering politics, Bibeau worked for the former Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and later became a businesswoman in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
As ag minister, her “overarching goal is to support the agricultural sector in a way that allows it to be a leader in job creation and innovation,” Trudeau’s office said Friday.
“Knowing that Canada’s farmers, ranchers and food processors are the foundation of our food sector, she will help Canada’s agriculture sector be more innovative, safer, and stronger.”
Among the industry organizations responding to Friday’s announcement, Grain Farmers of Ontario said it looks forward to working with Bibeau on issues such as business risk management programs, finalizing the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and “expansion into new markets including a free trade agreement with China.”
The Canadian Pork Council said it also looks forward to meeting with Bibeau in “the near future” to discuss files such as African swine fever prevention and establishment of a national pork promotion and research agency.
The pork council on Friday also hailed MacAulay’s work on the African swine fever file as “vital to the sector and (driving) the prevention efforts of the country. We also appreciate the relations he built with key stakeholders in the United States.”
Alberta’s wheat and barley commissions, in a separate statement, hailed MacAulay’s “key role in securing several political wins for farmers” including the passage of Bill C-49, which they said “paves the way for long-term solutions to the rail transportation challenges that farmers have faced for decades.”
MacAulay, they said, “also played a critical role in supporting the commissions’ successful lobbying efforts to retain the cash ticket deferral mechanism, following threats of its elimination in the March 2017 federal budget.”
MacAulay, a farmer and businessman before entering politics as MP for the P.E.I. riding of Cardigan, is no stranger to the veterans’ affairs file, having previously served as secretary of state for veterans from 1994 to 1997.
Before his appointment as ag minister, MacAulay also served stints as labour minister and solicitor general. — Glacier FarmMedia Network